Turning Japanese

Taiyaki takes over Instagram

A Japanese cake-based dessert called taiyaki has joined a new class of Asian imports subbing for ice cream cones stateside and beyond. The fish-shaped snack is quickly becoming Instagram bait, making it the dessert du jour for the 20% of youth seeking share-worthy food- and drink-related experiences.


Manhattan’s first taiyaki ice cream shop, Taiyaki NYC, has become the go-to place for reeling in a big-mouthed cone that serves as a vessel for soft serve flavors like matcha and black sesame. The shop uses a special griddle to create its version of the classic, which has been around for over 100 years. Fans aching for the perfect shot often top their creations with red bean paste, sprinkles, and fruit kabobs. The photographs are free, but the cones cost $7. The shop’s social strategy appears to be paying off, as lines are still out the door months after opening.


Sydney’s most Instagrammable dessert destination, Zero Degrees, is winning over ice cream lovers with its take on taiyaki. Located inside the Regent Place boutique shopping and dining hub, the experience starts with an eggy waffle cone that the company calls its “pufferfish.” All cones are made to order, fresh and crispy, and the hollows are then filled with red bean paste, vanilla custard, and fruits like mangoes, strawberries, and pineapple. In addition to taiyaki, the shop also serves popsicles, the Korean shaved ice dessert bingsoo, and a popcorn-covered goliath dubbed the Zero Monster.


Venture out to NYC’s Flushing neighborhood and you’re bound to run into a school of taiyaki cakes at Ice & Pan. Each cone is baked, hollowed, and lined with custard, matcha, or taro. Diners then select their soft serve from a unique lineup of flavors, including Hokkaido milk, charcoal sesame, and uji matcha. Since opening in July, the shop has encouraged dessert lovers to share their creations on Instagram. In order to create the most photogenic posts, customers have been sprinkling their cones with a variety of colorful toppings.